Had a convo? with a close friend yesterday that reminded me of a lesson-learned back in…well, never mind. I had several new college freshman hanging around my youth group. They were freshly minted into their new academic world, going to school locally and we were a few weeks into the new school year. That also meant? we had brand-spankin’ new 6th graders, too.
I didn’t know any better so I thought,? “What could it hurt to let the older ones hang on?” (Now, I know you’re probably gonna mock me for the details of the next part of the story but keep in mind: this was cool and common at the time.) We had a guy come into to do some puppet-clown ministry stuff for us. Our middle-schoolers had a ministry in that area of their own so he was there to get the new 6th graders excited.
After the evening was done, we’d had a great time, and said excitement levels had been raised in the 6th graders, I was cleaning up when the three college freshman approached me. “Tonight TOTALLY was lame. It didn’t meet our spiritual needs at all. It was so childish.”
I was caught by surprise because really, in context at that time, it had been a successful night. No police calls, nothing broken in the youth room and my guitar stayed in tune. We’d all laughed and cried at the appropriate times with our guest’s presentation.
“We’re college freshman now and a clown/puppet ministry doesn’t meet our needs.” And that was when I realized these freshman had to go. Goodbye. So long. It had not really occurred to me before then that by letting them hang on, I was really hurting the growth of the whole group: 1) The 6th graders were even more intimidated? 2) the new batch of seniors needed to be allowed to be the “oldest and wisest” and 3) The college kids needed to find their own path in an age-appropriate ministry…which our church didn’t have but that wasn’t my problem to solve.
So, long story short: We found them several options for other college ministies in the area, enacted a policy that college students step away from the program for at least a year and then only come back as adult volunteers, held to all the same standards as? any other of the team’s volunteers.?
It all comes down to this: Your ministry can’t be all things to all people so do what you were hired to do.?